The Uneasy Peaceful Life of Promise

These past few days have been incredible and I would be remiss if I did not write about them. I’ve met with a commercial agent and, more resounding for me, I served at Hillsong Conference for the past three days.

Last week I had this but feeling that this week would be pivotal, and I was right. The week began with a message from the lead pastor of my church speaking about persevering through the storm. It was the finishing of a larger message that he split up over a few Sundays. Basically the thrust of what he has been getting at in the sermon is, when God asked me to give up my life to follow Him, when He sent His son to die for me, to allow for me to serve, it stopped being about me.

We as a culture, as a species, are self focused. We are self centered, and we aim to be content (fat and happy). This is the basic human form, toiling through life reaching out for the untangible goal of being completely at ease, well fed, all desires met, etc. This was not our purpose from the beginning, our original design has been compromised. We were made to live in community with one another, to have companionship. When we are self focused we cannot genuinely have this authentic, interdependent community we were designed for.

It is known that the world is self interested, but the church has claimed to be more and quite honestly ought to be more. We have been reset, now we are still adjusting to the factory settings and we won’t be completely back to original design until we get the physical upgrade (more about sanctification later). Now, as I mentioned we as the church should be more  cognizant of the need to be selfless and love others,for it is in fact part of the words of Jesus.
But we’re not doing it right, are we?

Pastor Carl spoke about how consumed we as Christians get about “self-care” and whether or not we feel at ease with a situation.
Now, let me explain. I think that in recent church history we have responded to a terrible feature of abuse of power and burnout with swinging to far in the opposite direction. In a way to avoid being “overused” we go on about self care and how God never meant for us to be abused. This is right, God never meant for us to be abused, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. There are a lot of things in life that God intended that we, humans, broke. God never tells us life is easy and anyone who tells you otherwise is speaking blasphemy.

God never said life would be easy, in fact what he said was quite the opposite, He said life would be hard, but He is good. He has promised to walk through those difficult areas in life with us, but that requires us to walk. God asks that we move through these situations, that we show endurance and perseverance in these times. That we would carry on and trust Him.

But what about unhealthy situations, what about God being a God of peace and not of strife, and confusion. You know what is amazing g about all the heroes of the Bible? Not those places where they were in an emotionally healthy environment or when they were content and at ease, but when they were in the chaos and confusion and God got them through. But they always had to move forward. Abraam would never have become Abraham, father of promise, if he had not left the comfort of Ur. I wonder how confused he was. Yet, he trusted God.

When God called me to New York, I was lost and confused, anxious. I was told that God is not a God of fear and that if it was Him I wouldn’t feel so much anxiety, that I would feel peace. I did feel peace, but you know what, I also felt afraid, terrified even. The peace I had was the one that went beyond understanding, that root at your core that tells you it’ll be fine,the Holy Spirit saying to trust. This is the marker of walking in faith (not that I am some great beacon of faith) but that we walk regardless of our feeling trusting that God will care for us.

When I signed up for serving at Hillsong I was asked to help lead a zone, a group of volunteer ushers. There were three of us leading and I was under the point person for our leadership trio, but on the first night I was the on!y one able to be present. I was nervous, afraid that I would mess up (which all of us did at some point, but there was a good learning curve). I didn’t start really feeling like everything was going well until halfway through worship. And in the loudness of the arena filled with people praising God, he spoke to me.

This is what I intended for you, this is a who you are, a leader, a mentor, I hate seeing you feeling so broken in your workplace, but I need you to keep going. Not forever but just a little while longer. Bring me to them by being this you I have created.

It was a great moment that resonated in my mind, even if I couldn’t pause on it right then (I started getting directions in my headset soon after) I knew it was what I needed, and I would chew on it. This moment happened after a tiring week. I hadnt slept much already and I knew I wouldn’t be going into this weekend. Then throughout this weekend I got about 6 hours of sleep over two nights. Physically I was exhausted, but I felt so energized just by being who I was meant to be and serving with all I had. I didn’t have anxiety that kept me from sleeping and I carried on.

Moral of the story. Serve, love with all you’ve got. God will fill you with what you need. Holding back, will only deplete your stores and capacity. Don’t avoid the storm, head into it knowing God has given me victory. Don’t become content outside the promised land afraid to face the giants who God has promised to defeat.

I could keep going but this is probably already too lengthy.

Advertisements

Random Thoughts, Random Things

I love craft stores. Now, before you get judgmental I have this long dialogue planned to combat gender norms in order to explain away my fascination with them. Or I am just going to accept that I like this thing which not everyone likes and you’ll go along with it as you read. Accept it like some aspect of a TV show you love that seems out of sync.

I love craft stores, and here’s where it gets interesting, not because I love crafts. I mean I enjoy them just as much as the next person, I enjoy the craftiness of them, how unique and personal they are, but honestly making  crafts usually irritates me. I am a perfectionist so as a child when my crafts weren’t as good or better than the teachers craft I sulked away. Again yes, please don’t judge too harshly. I was a precocious child and I knew it to my detriment.

I digress, I have always enjoyed craft stores, because no matter what time of year there will be something in the store that has something Christmas related. And Christmas has always been a sanctuary of sorts for me. A place where I can relish in the sweet charms of good family time. Christmas is when everyone comes together and tries to be good and kind to one another. To love one another. Christmas is the time of year when people are okay with referring to Jesus, because he was a cute baby. Christmas is the time of year where people who don’t believe in God hum and sing worship hymns throughout their day.

Christmas gives me all types of feel goods, and it always has. It’s funny because as I was reminiscing about this, I remembered how as a kid I asked my parents to take me to this huge craft store (mostly filled with Christmas regalia through the year). You know what’s funny, they did. Not all the time because I’m sure it got old fast, but my parents, especially my mom would take me to this craft store in the middle of June so I could dream of Christmas. What a peculiar child. And they encouraged and loved me through it, I don’t think I’ve thanked them enough.

I also shared this special bond with my grandma (Granny) with craft stores and Christmas. She would take me to craft stores as well and we would talk about her various Christmas trees and their specific themes. We would talk about foods to make and decorations to put up. She would even send me her Christmas magazines and I would devour them, imagining Christmas.

Christmas has always been that place in time where everything is okay.

Don’t you think its cool how we can have those memories and times to go to that can fill us up with euphoria? Sometimes there are antagonists that try to take them away, but if you defend them they remain those good places. As I grow up I understand that reality is not always pleasant of kind and sometimes even those memories are rose hued but I think as long as you learn to grow and persevere through hard times there will always be those pockets of pure warmth and that’s okay.

Hope

I don’t think I’ve been writing enough, and since I have this new handy tablet, I will endeavor to write when given time or divine inspiration hits.

Lately I’ve been rewatching the television show “Smallville” now while there are some terrible writing moments, inconsistencies in character and just cliche tropes executed (what more can you expect from The WB CW?) I love the show because it follows Clark Kent (Kal-El) on his journey to become Superman.

Now I have always been  big fan of superman because he is always resolute when it comes to his ethics (one of the reasons I struggled with “Man of Steel”). He has an integrity that makes him stand out, which is why many jokingly refer to him as a ” boyscout”. Most people complain that either Superman is too powerful or too self-righteous. This is why I like him and have a special fondness for this show.

Superman is known to have one big weakness, the foundation of his planet, a meteor rock called Kryptonite. A lot of people complain how simplistic it is to have all the power in the world only to be fettered by a green rock. But you see, that’s the beauty of Superman, besides for various extenuating circumstances or by use of some villain, it is not the Kryptonite that limits the alien hero, but rather his own restraint. This is his true strength, to have all the power in the universe and to know when and where to use it. This is his greatest struggle.

The show explores how he grows up, how his ethics and character develop him to be the wunderkind he is destined to become.

I realized that this is similar to why I enjoy watching the British SciFi show, “Doctor Who”. Here is a larger than life being who shows restraint and self control, knowing when and where to step in and always in the pursuit of bettering a situation.

Now as I have sat on the train many times commuting back and forth to work I have had time to think about why this is; why I am drawn to such characters. They’re saviors.

These types of characters have so much ability and power which they use to help people. These aliens are fascinated by humanity, the intricacies of people interactions, appalled by the horrendous atrocities we are capable of but always seeking the good knowing it exists and is possible. They hope and they draw out the best through this hope.

What’s funny to me is I immediately saw a pattern and knew from what origin it comes from. I tried to downplay it at first because it sounded like one of those great allegories pastors use in church to bait and switch people. You know those cultural/pop references that are used for a sermon series? But regardless of how many cultures and civilizations have a mythos with a saviour character in my understanding there is one that stands above the rest.

Most of the saviors in history (Supes and the Doctor included) all seem willing and able to save humanity or an individual from some great peril. Most heroes are not perfect, and though they do well to make good choices and good decisions, they still falter and fail (sometimes in big ways with irrecoverable damage) but one, who perfect in character, withstanding all forms of temptation, did the best good and not just saved people from calamity, but He saved us from the deadly peril of ourselves.

We are both the bystanders and villains of this story. And yet, this Superhero saved us. We broke ties with the one who cares for us and provides for us, our lifeline, and regardless if we are paying for the oxygen tube or standing obstinate and haughty, Jesus has offered the way to life.

But that’s not the end of the story. We get to be his companion in His quest to save the world, we get to join His Justice League. Now that I am attached to the life line it is my honor to be able to point people to that lifeline.

Why did I spend so much trying to save people on my own? Caring for people is not enough if I can’t help. Now I can’t force people to choose life, but I can show them and I can give as much love and life as possible (which is only possible when I myself am strapped into the roots).

Mud in my Face, Am I a Disgrace?

Each week it’s the same thing. Each week I wonder how it’s going to happen. How am I going to make to next week? How am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to have enough to eat? How am I going to get what I need to get through?

Each week it’s the same thing. Each week I make it through. I make it to the next week. My bills are always paid in full. I eat plenty. I have been able to get all I need, clothes, toiletries. I have enough. I make it.

Last month I added a bill to the monthly slot, and I’ve been able to manage. I don’t know how but I’ve made it.
The only explanation I can think of is God. The math certainly isn’t adding up. God has been fulfilling His promise. I am more valuable than birds and flowers. It’s been frustrating because when you live week to week, you feel trapped. There’s no contingency, no safety if something goes wrong. If my mom gets sick I am without power to fly home to see her. I have found it difficult getting into the acting thing, like I believed I was supposed to do because I haven’t been able to take the right classes or get in the right areas to be known. It doesn’t help my situation when I work in a place that is difficult to work in, unnecessarily exhausting.

But God.

But God is good. God has provided all I need. Enough.

Since February my cellphone has been acting up. I had an iPhone but the screen was unreliable. My contract is up for renewal at the end of October and I knew that because of potential renewal I could wait. I was prepared to wait. These last few months have been especially difficult because the phone has gotten worse. I would have to keep rotating my phone around to be able to access all the letters in texting/emailing and  on phone calls it would randomly hang up or dial numbers.

Getting so fed up I finally went into Verizon and asked to see what I could do. After 24 hrs, a little clever maneuvering I walked out of Verizon with a new phone and a tablet (it was part of the weird maneuvering), and I won’t be paying anymore than what I was going to pay in a month when I got the upgrade. Now it’s not a huge deal, but it felt like such a relief to have  phone that works and a brand new model at that.

Now as money has been perpetually tight I didn’t know how I would finance this venture. Now I was able to use some money that I had again with some creative maneuvering but it would make money tight again for the future. Then I felt it. Serious heavy guilt. You see anytime I spend lots of money on what I deem as a luxury (a brand new iPhone) especially when money is tight. I kept telling myself it was okay and it was an investment, but honestly I don’t know.

I believe it is an okay purchase, and honestly I felt at peace about it and relief, but I am seriously doubting whether I should. I keep telling myself that God will continue to provide but if I’m not being responsible with what he has given me, surely there’ll be an object lesson here. Right?

Now, I know God is in the business of developing me to be all that He has designed me to be and He uses difficult situations to develop me, but God is not punitive.

God says that the birds do not sow or reap and God still cares for them, and how much more does He care for me, for His children?

I cannot allow this guilt grow, this oppressive feeling that God will withhold His love from me, or His blessing from me because I spent money on nice phone for myself. God’s goodness is not dependent on mine. His character is not dependent on mine. How big of a relief that can be.

This past Sunday one of the pastors of the church told the story of the blind man whose sight was healed with spit mom and one of the parts of the story that stood out to him was that when the disciples asked Jesus who sinned that he would deal with this disability, Jesus responds that neither his parents not he sinned to get this, but rather he  suffered only so God’s glory would be revealed in His life.

At the end of the day toys don’t matter, am I submitting to God in difficulty, allowing Him to be glorified by my life, by my circumstances? Am I willing to get spit and mud in my eyes?